We're chatting to expats who live and work in Thailand about the pandemic situation here. Mike is a real Thailand veteran, having lived here for almost 30 years and worked for AUA Language Schools for all of that time. Oh, and he's also had Covid already!
Could you introduce yourself (where are you from? how long have you lived in Thailand? and what do you do for a living?)
I’m Mike White from Southampton, England. I have lived in Thailand for 29 years and I work at AUA Language Centre. I work with international English tests.
In general, how do you think Thailand has handled the pandemic up to now?
To be honest, I think Thailand was a little ‘lucky’ in the first and second waves (if you can call them that). While the US, Europe and Brazil were being ravaged, Asia was kind of wondering what all the fuss was about. However, the quarantine rules Thailand imposed must have helped. The government did get some things right, but there was a lot of head scratching as well.
If you were put in charge of things right now, what would be the first rules or things you would change?
I would allow people to use open spaces, especially parks. I would have a serious track and trace system developed so that clusters could be identified more quickly and have people self-isolate rather than forcing all positive cases into so-called field hospitals.
Let’s talk about you personally. What is the most regrettable thing that the pandemic has robbed you of or changed about your life?
My dad is ailing with Alzheimer’s and I want to spend more time with him before he goes.
From a work point of view, how has your situation changed (if indeed it has) and has there been any significant financial impact?
AUA has continued to battle through the pandemic and some classes have moved online. Testing unfortunately can’t be done online so my department is struggling to keep its head above water. Hopefully we can get through it and reopen our facilities soon.
Has the pandemic had any positive impacts on your life?
Yes. I think I have become more patient and tolerant of rules and regulations (even if they are stupid ones). But that could be because I contracted COVID in the UK in January, and now have more respect and understanding of the rules.
When do you predict the world will return to some sort of normality and we will be able to travel abroad and maybe get to remove these damn face-masks, etc?
For total normality around the world I think it’ll be around the end of 2022.
Things started to go pear-shaped in March 2020. Over the past year or so, has your enthusiasm for living in Thailand increased or decreased?
Definitely decreased. I feel I’m now further away from home, but I also feel more hostility/dislike toward foreigners here.
When we get to the light at the end of this long tunnel, have you promised yourself to make lifestyle changes or do some things differently?
Definitely spend more time in the UK with my brother and friends there.
For someone who doesn’t know how to get through the days and is perhaps suffering mentally, what would be your advice?
That’s a tough one. I would strongly urge them (if I didn’t know them too well) to seek professional help, or even put them in touch with someone myself. Or, try to talk to them to find out what might help them. For those close to me, I’d do as much as I could to help them and ease their stress.